Monday, December 7, 2020

Frostblood Review...


Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating - yet irresistible - Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her - and from the icy young man she has come to love.


I have had this book for a while and then I got really behind on reviews when I got into a 2 year reading slump. I am finally starting to come out of that slump and this was one of the first books I read and ENJOYED whole heartedly.
So Ruby is a Fire Blood and one of the few left. They are so rare that her mother is killed and the King's guards take her prisoner. She is rescued from prison and trained to kill the King by a Frost Blood. She is eventually taken prisoner by the King's guards again but not until she is trained to use her skills and to fight. Can she survive long enough to do what she was trained to do? Will the prophecies she keeps hearing about come true? What will happen?
Yes I know that is a crappy synopsis but I don't want to give too much away. I absolutely loved these characters!!! They are so abstract and interesting and I kept learning more about them. This was my first book by Elly Blake and I truly loved it. I read the book in a matter of hours. I didn't want to put it down. I can truly say I look forward to continuing the series and buying the actual books one day really soon. This book flowed really well and it kept you on your toes. I recommend not only the book but the author!!

Friday, December 4, 2020

Flame in the Mist Review...


The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.



I fell in love with Renee's writing with The Wrath and the Dawn and have read almost everything she's written (I've got 2 left to read).  But anyways back to this book.

So I'm not going to lie to you...this book started out kind of slowly and was a little confusing so I did struggle with it at first.  This book has undertones of the Mulan story which is what made me pick it up, I love retellings and Mulan is one of my favorites.

Mariko is on her way to marry a man she's never met in order to elevate her families status.  But on her way her caravan is attacked and she is the only survivor.  She sets out thinking she knows who attacked her caravan but soon realizes they are not the ones who attacked them.  She soon becomes a part of the group of rouges she thought attacked her and makes friends with them.  The issue, most of them think she is a boy, the one who knows isn't who he says he is and the one she falls for isn't who he says he is.  Along the way she finds out more about her family and lifestyle than she'd planned on and become somebody she never planned to be.  But can she figure out who attacked her caravan?  Will everybody's secrets come out in the end?  What could possibly go wrong?

So I love Renee's writing style and she is on my list of buy without reading the blurbs.  I own all of her books except the next one in this series actually.  Like I mentioned previously this book started out slow but about half way through it picked up and I flew through it.  Due to this weird pacing it wasn't my favorite book but not awful either.  I loved the characters and I am still very intrigued to find out what happens with these characters!  The characters definitely kept me on my toes and Renee kept me guessing as to how things would play out.  I am hoping to get book 2 soon so that I can finish my collection and this duology!  I would recommend the book.  

4 secret stars

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Kiss of Death (Morganville Vampires Book 8) Review...


Vampire musician Michael Glass has attracted the attention of a big- time producer who wants to cut a demo and play some gigs-which means Michael will have to enter the human world. For this, he's been assigned escorts that include both a dangerous immortal as well as Michael's all-too-human friends. And with that mix of personalities, this is going to be a road trip from hell...



So this is the final book in my re-read of this series!  I love the Morganville Vampire series but 8 books in is as far as I've ever gotten.  I just put books 9 and 10 on hold through the library and can't wait to read them!

So in this book...Michael is approached by a music producer outside of Morganville.  So the whole crew heads out of town for Michael to record music and play gigs.  However, these guys can't go anywhere without trouble ensuing.  They stop at a hotel for the night and lose their car but Eve is truly excited about her new car.  Then they end up in a town overrun by Vampires.  Can they make it home in one piece?  Does Michael make it to his gigs and recording session?  You have to read to find out I guess.

Again the narrator did an amazing job.  Rachel definitely kept me on my toes with this one.  As I said above this book is the furthest I've made it in this series so I look forward to continuing.  I did request the next two books from the library.  I read 7 and 8 in one day so I figured I better grab at least two at a time.  I get sucked in and since the next book basically picks up where the one before it leaves off I have to know what happens next.

If you have not read these books I highly recommend it.  Start with book one or you'll get lost but this is by far my favorite YA Vampire series.

5 musical stars!!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Fade Out (Morganville Vampires Book 7) Review...


Without the evil vampire Bishop ruling over the town of Morganville, the resident vampires have made major concessions to the human population. With their newfound freedoms, Claire Danvers and her friends are almost starting to feel comfortable again…

Now Claire can actually concentrate on her studies, and her friend Eve joins the local theatre
company. But when one of Eve’s cast mates goes missing after starting work on a short documentary, Eve suspects the worst. Claire and Eve soon realize that this film project, whose subject is the vampires themselves, is a whole lot bigger—and way more dangerous—than anyone suspected.



I love that these books basically pick up where the last one left off.  So this one picks up after Bishop is gone and things are starting to go back to normal.  Well as normal as you can get in Morganville.  Claire is going back to school, Eve gets a role in the town play and Claire starts to feel on the outs when Eve makes a new friend.  I mean what could go wrong in that scenario right?

This book is once again an amazing re-read for me.  I truly enjoyed the narration of the audiobook.  The narrator kept me entertained and I have enjoyed listening to her read each of these books.  Rachel is one of those authors who can easily keep you on the edge of your seat.  The characters are relateable and interesting.  I always look forward to the next book!

While each book ends without a cliffhanger this is a series you need to read in order.  This is book 7 but they are extremely easy reads and Rachel makes it so that you don't want to put the books down.  I read books 7 and 8 in one day.  But 8 is the last one I have for now so I'm on a break from the series.  I have loved this series since the first time I picked it up and I look forward to finishing the series.

5 theatrical stars!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Reunited Review...

After surviving her otherworldly adventure, Lily wakes up on her nana’s farm having forgotten everything. Her sun prince, her travels to Egypt, and her journey to the Afterlife are all distant memories.

But Lily is not the girl she once was. Her body is now part human, part lion, and part fairy. And if that isn’t bad enough, she must now harness this power of three and become Wasret: a goddess destined to defeat the evil god Seth once and for all.

With the help of her old friend Dr. Hassan, Lily departs on her final voyage through the cosmos and across the plains of Egypt. On the journey, she will transform into the being she is destined to become.

It is time for Lily to find her sunset.



I've been sitting on how I truly felt about this book unable to truly process the feelings and thoughts about it.  It's been a few months and I'm still not sure how to put everything into words.

This is the final book in the series and I feel like it was the hardest and slowest book to read.  It follows Lily on her journey through the Afterlife to save her ancient Egyptian prince and his brothers.  But she doesn't do it alone she has a lioness and a fairy living inside of her and one of the brothers helps her the entire way.  

I feel like this book was extremely slow and drawn out.  This is probably because there were 3 main characters in one body and I struggled to keep track of who was taking over and when.  There was also a lot going on with the varying characters and keeping track of the monsters and characters was difficult.  I loved the first two books and truly looked forward to reading this one but I honestly think it was drawn out and could have been resolved way sooner.

All in all it was a great series and Colleen Houck continues to be among my favorite authors.  I just struggled a lot with this book

3.75 stars

Sunday, October 4, 2020

The Jake Ryan Complex Review...


A teenage movie crush set her standards high. Now a real man needs to meet them. Fast.

Chicago obstetrician Mackenzie “Mac” Huntress set her standards for men very high early on. It’s been over twenty years since she fell for a fictional movie heartthrob, and Mac’s content to wait for the real version to come along; it’s her nagging mother who’s not happy with the timeline. So Mac falls back on her lifelong Mom-surviving skill—lying. The latest fabrication: a handsome neurologist named Michael. Pity he’s too busy to meet her friends and family. Problem solved.

But when Mac’s little sister announces her engagement, Mac is expected to introduce her elusive “plus-one” at the wedding, leaving her with only forty days to find a flesh-and-blood stand-in for the imaginary Michael. And the only potential Mr. Right comes with a big hitch.

However, it turns out Mac’s not the only one bringing secrets to the wedding. With expectations high, and shocking truths to be revealed, Mac’s left to find her own happy ending, which isn’t as simple as in the movies…though it’s definitely worth waiting for.



Having loved Sixteen Candles and Jake Ryan I picked this book up because of the title. I was not let down...I absolutely loved the book. Mac is an obstetrician who has been waiting for her Jake Ryan. JT is a contractor who after a horrible past thinks he is ready to move on. When the two of them meet there is almost instant chemistry but neither one gives into it right away. Mac thinks he's married so she goes on several dates with real losers. If I say anymore there will be a lot of spoilers so I'm going to leave it at that.
The book was extremely well written and kept me guessing around every corner. I haven't read anything by Bethany Crandell before but I look forward to reading more by her soon. She has a great writing style and I loved every second of this book. Highly recommend this book.

5 stars

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Black Swan of Paris...


Author: Karen Robards

ISBN: 9780778309338

Publication Date: June 30, 2020

Publisher: MIRA


For fans of The Alice Network and The Lost Girls of Paris comes a thrilling standalone by New York Times bestselling author Karen Robards about a celebrated singer in WWII occupied France who joins the Resistance to save her estranged family from being killed in a German prison.

In Occupied France, the Resistance trembles on the brink of destruction. Its operatives, its secrets, its plans, all will be revealed. One of its leaders, wealthy aristocrat Baron Paul de Rocheford, has been killed in a raid and the surviving members of his cell, including his wife the elegant Baronness Lillian de Rocheford, have been arrested and transported to Germany for interrogation and, inevitably, execution.

Captain Max Ryan, British SOE, is given the job of penetrating the impregnable German prison where the Baroness and the remnants of the cell are being held and tortured. If they can't be rescued he must kill them before they can give up their secrets.

Max is in Paris, currently living under a cover identity as a show business impresario whose star attraction is Genevieve Dumont. Young, beautiful Genevieve is the toast of Europe, an icon of the glittering entertainment world that the Nazis celebrate so that the arts can be seen to be thriving in the occupied territories under their rule.

What no one knows about Genevieve is that she is Lillian and Paul de Rocheford's younger daughter. Her feelings toward her family are bitter since they were estranged twelve years ago. But when she finds out from Max just what his new assignment entails, old, long-buried feelings are rekindled and she knows that no matter what she can't allow her mother to be killed, not by the Nazis and not by Max. She secretly establishes contact with those in the Resistance who can help her. Through them she is able to contact her sister Emmy, and the sisters put aside their estrangement to work together to rescue their mother.

It all hinges on a command performance that Genevieve is to give for a Gestapo General in the Bavarian town where her mother and the others are imprisoned. While Genevieve sings and the show goes on, a daring rescue is underway that involves terrible danger, heartbreaking choices, and the realization that some ties, like the love between a mother and her daughters and between sisters, are forever.



May 15, 1944

When the worst thing that could ever happen to you had already happened, nothing that came after really mattered. The resultant state of apathy was almost pleasant, as long as she didn’t allow herself to think about it—any of it—too much.

She was Genevieve Dumont, a singer, a star. Her latest sold-out performance at one of Paris’s great theaters had ended in a five-minute standing ovation less than an hour before. She was acclaimed, admired, celebrated wherever she went. The Nazis loved her.

She was not quite twenty-five years old. Beautiful when, like now, she was dolled up in all her after-show finery. Not in want, not unhappy.

In this time of fear and mass starvation, of worldwide deaths on a scale never seen before in the whole course of human history, that made her lucky. She knew it.

Whom she had been before, what had almost destroyed her—that life belonged to someone else. Most of the time, she didn’t even remember it herself.

She refused to remember it.

A siren screamed to life just meters behind the car she was traveling in. Startled, she sat upright in the back seat, heart lurching as she looked around.

Do they know? Are they after us?

A small knot of fans had been waiting outside the stage door as she’d left. One of them had thrust a program at her, requesting an autograph for Francoise. She’d signed—May your heart always sing, Genevieve Dumont—as previously instructed. What it meant she didn’t know. What she did know was that it meant something: it was a prearranged encounter, and the coded message she’d scribbled down was intended for the Resistance.

And now, mere minutes later, here were the Milice, the despised French police who had long since thrown in their lot with the Nazis, on their tail.

Even as icy jets of fear spurted through her, a pair of police cars followed by a military truck flew by. Running without lights, they appeared as no more than hulking black shapes whose passage rattled the big Citroën that up until then had been alone on the road. A split second later, her driver—his name was Otto Cordier; he worked for Max, her manager—slammed on the brakes. The car jerked to a stop.

Sacre bleu!” Flying forward, she barely stopped herself from smacking into the back of the front seat by throwing her arms out in front of her. “What’s happening?”

“A raid, I think.” Peering out through the windshield, Otto clutched the steering wheel with both hands. He was an old man, short and wiry with white hair. She could read tension in every line of his body. In front of the car, washed by the pale moonlight that painted the scene in ghostly shades of gray, the cavalcade that had passed them was now blocking the road. A screech of brakes and the throwing of a shadow across the nearest building had her casting a quick look over her shoulder. Another military truck shuddered to a halt, filling the road behind them, stopping it up like a cork in a bottle. Men—German soldiers along with officers of the Milice—spilled out of the stopped vehicles. The ones behind swarmed past the Citroën, and all rushed toward what Genevieve tentatively identified as an apartment building. Six stories tall, it squatted, dark and silent, in its own walled garden.

“Oh, no,” she said. Her fear for herself and Otto subsided, but sympathy for the targets of the raid made her chest feel tight. People who were taken away by the Nazis in the middle of the night seldom came back.

The officers banged on the front door. “Open up! Police!”

It was just after 10:00 p.m. Until the siren had ripped it apart, the silence blanketing the city had been close to absolute. Thanks to the strictly enforced blackout, the streets were as dark and mysterious as the nearby Seine. It had rained earlier in the day, and before the siren the big Citroën had been the noisiest thing around, splashing through puddles as they headed back to the Ritz, where she was staying for the duration of her Paris run.

“If they keep arresting people, soon there will be no one left.” Genevieve’s gaze locked on a contingent of soldiers spreading out around the building, apparently looking for another way in—or for exits they could block. One rattled a gate of tall iron spikes that led into the brick-walled garden. It didn’t open, and he moved on, disappearing around the side of the building. She was able to follow the soldiers’ movements by the torches they carried. Fitted with slotted covers intended to direct their light downward so as to make them invisible to the Allied air-raid pilots whose increasingly frequent forays over Paris aroused both joy and dread in the city’s war-weary citizens, the torches’ bobbing looked like the erratic flitting of fireflies in the dark.

“They’re afraid, and that makes them all the more dangerous.” Otto rolled down his window a crack, the better to hear what was happening as they followed the soldiers’ movements. The earthy scent of the rain mixed with the faint smell of cigarette smoke, which, thanks to Max’s never-ending Gauloises, was a permanent feature of the car. The yellow card that was the pass they needed to be on the streets after curfew, prominently displayed on the windshield, blocked her view of the far side of the building, but she thought soldiers were running that way, too. “They know the Allies are coming. The bombings of the Luftwaffe installations right here in France, the Allied victories on the eastern front—they’re being backed into a corner. They’ll do whatever they must to survive.”

“Open the door, or we will break it down!”

The policeman hammered on the door with his nightstick. The staccato beat echoed through the night. Genevieve shivered, imagining the terror of the people inside.

Thin lines of light appeared in the cracks around some of the thick curtains covering the windows up and down the building as, at a guess, tenants dared to peek out. A woman, old and stooped—there was enough light in the hall behind her to allow Genevieve to see that much—opened the front door.

“Out of the way!”

She was shoved roughly back inside the building as the police and the soldiers stormed in. Her frightened cry changed to a shrill scream that was quickly cut off.

Genevieve’s mouth went dry. She clasped her suddenly cold hands in her lap.

There’s nothing to be done. It was the mantra of her life.

“Can we drive on?” She had learned in a hard school that there was no point in agonizing over what couldn’t be cured. To stay and watch what she knew was coming—the arrest of partisans, who would face immediate execution upon arrival at wherever they would be taken, or, perhaps and arguably worse, civilians, in some combination of women, children, old people, clutching what few belongings they’d managed to grab, marched at gunpoint out of the building and loaded into the trucks for deportation—would tear at her heart for days without helping them at all.

“We’re blocked in.” Otto looked around at her. She didn’t know what he saw in her face, but whatever it was made him grimace and reach for the door handle. “I’ll go see if I can get one of them to move.”

When he exited the car, she let her head drop back to rest against the rolled top of the Citroën’s leather seat, stared at the ceiling and tried not to think about what might be happening to the people in the building. Taking deep breaths, she did her best to block out the muffled shouts and thuds that reached her ears and focused on the physical, which, as a performer, she had experience doing. She was so tired she was limp with it. Her temples throbbed. Her legs ached. Her feet hurt. Her throat—that golden throat that had allowed her to survive—felt tight. Deliberately she relaxed her muscles and tugged the scarf tucked into the neckline of her coat higher to warm herself.

A flash of light in the darkness caught her eye. Her head turned as she sought the source. Looking through the iron bars of the garden gate, she discovered a side door in the building that was slowly, stealthily opening.

“Is anyone else in there? Come out or I’ll shoot.” The volume of the soldiers’ shouts increased exponentially with this new gap in the walls. That guttural threat rang out above others less distinct, and she gathered from what she heard that they were searching the building.

The side door opened wider. Light from inside spilled past a figure slipping out: a girl, tall and thin with dark curly hair, wearing what appeared to be an unbuttoned coat thrown on over nightclothes. In her arms she carried a small child with the same dark, curly hair.

The light went out. The door had closed. Genevieve discovered that she was sitting with her nose all but pressed against the window as she tried to find the girl in the darkness. It took her a second, but then she spotted the now shadowy figure as it fled through the garden toward the gate, trying to escape.

They’ll shoot her if they catch her. The child, too.

The Germans had no mercy for those for whom they came.

The girl reached the gate, paused. A pale hand grabbed a bar. From the metallic rattle that reached her ears, Genevieve thought she must be shoving at the gate, shaking it. She assumed it was locked. In any event, it didn’t open. Then that same hand reached through the bars, along with a too-thin arm, stretching and straining.

Toward what? It was too dark to tell.

With the Citroën stopped in the middle of the narrow street and the garden set back only a meter or so from the front facade of the building, the girl was close enough so that Genevieve could read the desperation in her body language, see the way she kept looking back at the now closed door. The child, who appeared to be around ten months old, seemed to be asleep. The small curly head rested trustingly on the girl’s shoulder.

It wasn’t a conscious decision to leave the car. Genevieve just did it, then realized the risk she was taking when her pumps clickety-clacked on the cobblestones. The sound seemed to tear through the night and sent a lightning bolt of panic through her.

Get back in the car. Her sense of self-preservation screamed it at her, but she didn’t. Shivering at the latent menace of the big military trucks looming so close on either side of the Citroën, the police car parked askew in the street, the light spilling from the still open front door and the sounds of the raid going on inside the building, she kept going, taking care to be quiet now as she darted toward the trapped girl.

You’re putting yourself in danger. You’re putting Otto, Max, everyone in danger. The whole network—

Heart thudding, she reached the gate. Even as she and the girl locked eyes through it, the girl jerked her arm back inside and drew herself up.

The sweet scent of flowers from the garden felt obscene in contrast with the fear and despair she sensed in the girl.

“It’s all right. I’m here to help,” Genevieve whispered. She grasped the gate, pulling, pushing as she spoke. The iron bars were solid and cold and slippery with the moisture that still hung in the air. The gate didn’t budge for her, either. The clanking sound it made as she joggled it against its moorings made her break out in a cold sweat. Darkness enfolded her, but it was leavened by moonlight and she didn’t trust it to keep her safe. After all, she’d seen the girl from the car. All it would take was one sharp-eyed soldier, one policeman to come around a corner, or step out of the building and look her way—and she could be seen, too. Caught. Helping a fugitive escape.

The consequences would be dire. Imprisonment, deportation, even death.

Her pulse raced.

She thought of Max, what he would say.

On the other side of the gate, moonlight touched on wide dark eyes set in a face so thin the bones seemed about to push through the skin. The girl appeared to be about her own age, and she thought she must be the child’s mother. The sleeping child—Genevieve couldn’t tell if it was a girl or a boy—was wearing footed pajamas.

Her heart turned over.

“Oh, thank God. Thank you.” Whispering, too, the girl reached through the bars to touch Genevieve’s arm in gratitude. “There’s a key. In the fountainhead. In the mouth. It unlocks the gate.” She cast another of those lightning glances over her shoulder. Shifting from foot to foot, she could hardly stand still in her agitation. Fear rolled off her in waves. “Hurry. Please.”

Genevieve looked in the direction the girl had been reaching, saw the oval stone of the fountainhead set into the brick near the gate, saw the carved lion’s head in its center with its open mouth from which, presumably, water was meant to pour out. Reaching inside, she probed the cavity, ran her fingers over the worn-smooth stone, then did it again.

“There’s no key,” she said. “It’s not here.”

“It has to be. It has to be!” The girl’s voice rose, trembled. The child’s head moved. The girl made a soothing sound, rocked back and forth, patted the small back, and the child settled down again with a sigh. Watching, a pit yawned in Genevieve’s stomach. Glancing hastily down, she crouched to check the ground beneath the fountainhead, in case the key might have fallen out. It was too dark; she couldn’t see. She ran her hand over the cobblestones. Nothing.

“It’s not—” she began, standing up, only to break off with a swiftly indrawn breath as the door through which the girl had exited flew open. This time, in the rectangle of light, a soldier stood.

“My God.” The girl’s whisper as she turned her head to look was scarcely louder than a breath, but it was so loaded with terror that it made the hair stand up on the back of Genevieve’s neck. “What do I do?”

“Who is out there?” the soldier roared. Pistol ready in his hand, he pointed his torch toward the garden. The light played over a tattered cluster of pink peonies, over overgrown green shrubs, over red tulips thrusting their heads through weeds, as it came their way. “Don’t think to hide from me.”

“Take the baby. Please.” Voice hoarse with dread, the girl thrust the child toward her. Genevieve felt a flutter of panic: if this girl only knew, she would be the last person she would ever trust with her child. But there was no one else, and thus no choice to be made. As a little leg and arm came through the gate, Genevieve reached out to help, taking part and then all of the baby’s weight as between them she and the girl maneuvered the little one through the bars. As their hands touched, she could feel the cold clamminess of the girl’s skin, feel her trembling. With the child no longer clutched in her arms, the dark shape of a six-pointed yellow star on her coat became visible. The true horror of what was happening struck Genevieve like a blow.

The girl whispered, “Her name’s Anna. Anna Katz. Leave word of where I’m to come for her in the fountainhead—”

The light flashed toward them.

“You there, by the gate,” the soldier shouted.

With a gasp, the girl whirled away.

“Halt! Stay where you are!”

Heart in her throat, blood turning to ice, Genevieve whirled away, too, in the opposite direction. Cloaked by night, she ran as lightly as she could for the car, careful to keep her heels from striking the cobblestones, holding the child close to her chest, one hand splayed against short, silky curls. The soft baby smell, the feel of the firm little body against her, triggered such an explosion of emotion that she went briefly light-headed. The panicky flutter in her stomach solidified into a knot—and then the child’s wriggling and soft sounds of discontent brought the present sharply back into focus.

If she cried…

Terror tasted sharp and bitter in Genevieve’s mouth.

“Shh. Shh, Anna,” she crooned desperately. “Shh.”

“I said halt!” The soldier’s roar came as Genevieve reached the car, grabbed the door handle, wrenched the door open—

Bang. The bark of a pistol.

A woman’s piercing cry. The girl’s piercing cry.

No. Genevieve screamed it, but only in her mind. The guilt of running away, of leaving the girl behind, crashed into her like a speeding car.

Blowing his whistle furiously, the soldier ran down the steps. More soldiers burst through the door, following the first one down the steps and out of sight.

Had the girl been shot? Was she dead?

My God, my God. Genevieve’s heart slammed in her chest.

She threw herself and the child into the back seat and—softly, carefully—closed the door. Because she didn’t dare do anything else.


The baby started to cry.

Staring out the window in petrified expectation of seeing the soldiers come charging after her at any second, she found herself panting with fear even as she did her best to quiet the now wailing child.

Could anyone hear? Did the soldiers know the girl had been carrying a baby?

If she was caught with the child…

What else could I have done?

Max would say she should have stayed out of it, stayed in the car. That the common good was more important than the plight of any single individual.

Even a terrified girl. Even a baby.

“It’s all right, Anna. I’ve got you safe. Shh.” Settling back in the seat to position the child more comfortably in her arms, she murmured and patted and rocked. Instinctive actions, long forgotten, reemerged in this moment of crisis.

Through the gate she could see the soldiers clustering around something on the ground. The girl, she had little doubt, although the darkness and the garden’s riotous blooms blocked her view. With Anna, quiet now, sprawled against her chest, a delayed reaction set in and she started to shake.

Otto got back into the car.

“They’re going to be moving the truck in front as soon as it’s loaded up.” His voice was gritty with emotion. Anger? Bitterness? “Someone tipped them off that Jews were hiding in the building, and they’re arresting everybody. Once they’re—”

Otto broke off as the child made a sound.

“Shh.” Genevieve patted, rocked. “Shh, shh.”

His face a study in incredulity, Otto leaned around in the seat to look. “Holy hell, is that a baby?”

“Her mother was trapped in the garden. She couldn’t get out.”

Otto shot an alarmed look at the building, where soldiers now marched a line of people, young and old, including a couple of small children clutching adults’ hands, out the front door.

“My God,” he said, sounding appalled. “We’ve got to get—”

Appearing out of seemingly nowhere, a soldier rapped on the driver’s window. With his knuckles, hard.

Oh, no. Please no.

Genevieve’s heart pounded. Her stomach dropped like a rock as she stared at the shadowy figure on the other side of the glass.

We’re going to be arrested. Or shot.

Whipping the scarf out of her neckline, she draped the brightly printed square across her shoulder and over the child.

Otto cranked the window down.

“Papers,” the soldier barked.

Fear formed a hard knot under Genevieve’s breastbone. Despite the night’s chilly temperature, she could feel sweat popping out on her forehead and upper lip. On penalty of arrest, everyone in Occupied France, from the oldest to the youngest, was required to have identity documents readily available at all times. Hers were in her handbag, beside her on the seat.

But Anna had none.

Otto passed his cards to the soldier, who turned his torch on them.

As she picked up her handbag, Genevieve felt Anna stir.

Please, God, don’t let her cry.

“Here.” Quickly she thrust her handbag over the top of the seat to Otto. Anna was squirming now. Genevieve had to grab and secure the scarf from underneath to make sure the baby’s movements didn’t knock it askew.

If the soldier saw her…

Anna whimpered. Muffled by the scarf, the sound wasn’t loud, but its effect on Genevieve was electric. She caught her breath as her heart shot into her throat—and reacted instinctively, as, once upon a time, it had been second nature to do.

She slid the tip of her little finger between Anna’s lips.

The baby responded as babies typically did: she latched on and sucked.

Genevieve felt the world start to slide out of focus. The familiarity of it, the bittersweet memories it evoked, made her dizzy. She had to force herself to stay in the present, to concentrate on this child and this moment to the exclusion of all else.

Otto had handed her identity cards over. The soldier examined them with his torch, then bent closer to the window and looked into the back seat.

She almost expired on the spot.

“Mademoiselle Dumont. It is a pleasure. I have enjoyed your singing very much.”

Anna’s hungry little mouth tugged vigorously at her finger.

“Thank you,” Genevieve said, and smiled.

The soldier smiled back. Then he straightened, handed the papers back and, with a thump on the roof, stepped away from the car. Otto cranked the window up.

The tension inside the car was so thick she could almost physically feel the weight of it.

“Let them through,” the soldier called to someone near the first truck. Now loaded with the unfortunate new prisoners, it was just starting to pull out.

With a wave for the soldier, Otto followed, although far too slowly for Genevieve’s peace of mind. As the car crawled after the truck, she cast a last, quick glance at the garden: she could see nothing, not even soldiers.

Was the girl—Anna’s mother—still there on the ground? Or had she already been taken away?

Was she dead?

Genevieve felt sick to her stomach. But once again, there was nothing to be done.

Acutely aware of the truck’s large side and rear mirrors and what might be able to be seen through them, Genevieve managed to stay upright and keep the baby hidden until the Citroën turned a corner and went its own way.

Then, feeling as though her bones had turned to jelly, she slumped against the door.

Anna gave up on the finger and started to cry, shrill, distressed wails that filled the car. With what felt like the last bit of her strength, Genevieve pushed the scarf away and gathered her up and rocked and patted and crooned to her. Just like she had long ago done with—

Do not think about it.

“Shh, Anna. Shh.”

“That was almost a disaster.” Otto’s voice, tight with reaction, was nonetheless soft for fear of disturbing the quieting child. “What do we do now? You can’t take a baby back to the hotel. Think questions won’t be asked? What do you bet that soldier won’t talk about having met Genevieve Dumont? All it takes is one person to make the connection between the raid and you showing up with a baby and it will ruin us all. It will ruin everything.”

“I know.” Genevieve was limp. “Find Max. He’ll know what to do.”

Excerpted from The Black Swan of Paris by Karen Robards, Copyright © 2020 by Karen Robards. Published by MIRA Books.



Karen Robards is the New York Times, USA TODAY and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of more than fifty novels and one novella. She is the winner of six Silver Pen awards and numerous other awards.


Author Website:

TWITTER: @TheKarenRobards

FB: @AuthorKarenRobards

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Sassy Blonde...

Today we have the release day blitz for Sassy Blonde by Stacey Kennedy! Check it out and be sure to grab your copy today!

Title: Sassy Blonde

Author: Stacey Kennedy

Genre: Contemporary Romance


About Sassy Blonde:

From USA Today bestselling author Stacey Kennedy comes a steamy contemporary romance featuring a brooding hero with too much baggage, a spirited heroine who is always up for adventure, and a sexy-as-hell road trip that will change their lives forever. Maisie Carter has always been a free spirit. An artist by nature, she has no idea what she's doing as co-owner of Three Chicks Brewery. But she's determined to prove to her older sisters that she can be an asset to their grandfather's beer legacy. The best way to do that? Make the rounds at Colorado's craft brewery festivals and turn Foxy Diva, their top beer, into an award winner. Unfortunately, after more than one "beer mishap," it becomes clear that she's going to need some help. Hayes Taylor knows he has a chip on his shoulder, but he has no interest in working through his traumatic past. He just wants to work on his horse farm, alone. The last thing he needs in his life is a woman, especially his dead wife's best friend, the sweet-as-pie Maisie Carter. But she's always brought out his protective instincts, and he can hardly say 'no' when she asks for his help... As the two embark on the festival tour, beer filled days turn into lust filled nights, and neither Maisie nor Hayes can deny their growing attraction. But Hayes knows love leads to heartbreak.... Can Maisie show him that their love is worth the risk?  

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Exclusive Excerpt:

“You’re fired.” Maisie balked at Clara, trying to ignore the dinging alarm coming from the hospital room across the hallway. She’d been in the hospital for six terribly long hours now. After she’d been knocked out, and an orthopedic surgeon realigned the fracture fragments, they’d given her a horribly ugly splint. While that all sucked, the worst part was that she had hurt her dominant hand. No painting. No drawing. No creating. For…weeks? That was bad. But this? “You can’t fire me,” she implored. “You and Amelia gave me full control of running the business, so I obviously can,” Clara said, placing her hands on her hips. “Even before your accident, I seriously doubted you could do this. Now? Maisie, let’s be real here, you can’t handle the festivals.” Defeat sank in, and even Maisie doubted herself, but yet, she still asked, “Who says I can’t?” Clara waved at the saline bag attached to Maisie’s hand and then pointed at Maisie’s broken finger. “I’d say today is evidence enough this isn’t working out.” Her sister’s expression softened, and she took Maisie’s uninjured hand and squeezed tight. “I know you wanted to do something more for the brewery than the logos and signage, and you tried. We’re proud of you.” Amelia nodded and gave a soft smile. “So proud.” Clara added, “But you’ve been struggling at this before you even hit the ground running. We’ll just have to find you something else to do within the company.” But there wasn’t anything else for Maisie to do, and they all knew it. Clara was the brains of the operation. Amelia was creator of the beer. Even, Penelope, their cousin, had taken over the brewery tours since Maisie, well…sucked at that too. Maisie was the painter, the dreamer, the woman trying desperately to fit into the box that she didn’t fit in. “Okay, I know having the keg fall on my hand wasn’t my finest moment,” she hedged, “but I can fix this.” Clara’s brows rose. “How?” “I’ll figure that out soon,” Maisie said with a smile. Clara frowned. “That sugary sweet smile has gotten you many, many chances, but I’m afraid you’re out of them.” No! No. This couldn’t happen. Clara and Amelia had been fulfilling their end of their bargain. Maisie may have broken her finger, but she was determined to do the same. To help fulfill Pops’s final wish. “Just give me one more try,” she pleaded. “Please.” Obviously taking pity on Maisie, Amelia cut in, nudging Clara’s arm. “It’s not going to hurt anyone to give her one more chance.” A muscle near Clara’s eye twitched. Like, maybe a few of those gray hairs she dyed lately were because of Maisie. She finally huffed, then said to Maisie, “I don’t even pretend to know how you’ll pull this off, but fine, one more chance. That’s it, though, Maisie. Our reputation is riding on these festivals.” “Got it,” Maisie said with a firm nod. Clara loosed another breath and stepped closer to the bed to drop a kiss on Maisie’s forehead. “I’m sorry about your finger.” Clara wasn’t all tough. She had an incredibly soft heart. It was just that her heart had thorns around it, ready to hurt, if need be. Maisie couldn’t blame her. Clara had Mason to think of, and being a single mom was a big weight. The brewery had to succeed. “Thanks,” Maisie said, studying her finger in the splint. “It actually doesn’t even hurt anymore.” She smiled at her sisters. “But maybe that’s the morphine talking.” Amelia chuckled, her eyes twinkling. “Probably, but since you are feeling better, how about I go see about getting you out of here?” “Lord, yes, please.” Maisie had been stuffed into a semi-private room, the blue curtain separating her and the next bed. She didn’t want to be there when that next person came in. Clara grabbed her purse off the seat. “I need to pick up Mason from the sitter. She’s probably wondering where I am.” When Clara reached the curtain, she turned back. “You’re really okay?” Maisie nodded. “The only thing hurting right now is my ego.” Clara’s brow wrinkled, obviously disbelieving. “Okay, call me if you need me. I’ll stop off at the pharmacy and pick up your painkiller prescription” Maisie often felt bad for Clara. The burden of responsibility always rested on her shoulders. Maisie couldn’t remember the last time Clara ever did anything for herself. “Thanks. Love you.” She forced a smile, giving her sisters a quick wave before they shut the curtain closed behind them. The moment they were gone, tears pricked Maisie’s eyelids. One more chance, and then what? Before she broke her finger, she had doubts she could pull off the beer festivals without epically screwing up. Now? Even she knew the finish line was near impossible to reach. She couldn’t even move a damn keg without it falling on her. This was beginning to feel like a nightmare she couldn’t wake up from. Being a disappointment to her sisters was normal. She’d always been Maisie, the baby who always got caught sneaking out and never followed the rules. But disappointing her grandfather, not seeing his final wish for the girls he’d raised come true, was harder to stomach. She slowly breathed through the pain, knowing one thing for certain—she could not fail. Voices stirred next to her as nurses rolled a bed in. A moment later, a high feminine voice snapped, “Sir, you need to stay in your bed.” “I’m fine. If you’d just let me go, I’d show you.” There was a muffled creak as the person adjusted in the bed before the nurse practically growled, “I’m going to sedate you if you don’t stay put.” Maisie fought her laughter at that low baritone voice. Only one man would cause someone so much grief. She slid off the bed, grabbed the curtain, and whisked it open. First, she met the nurse’s scowl. Then she met Hayes’s whiskey-colored eyes. He practically filled the hospital bed with six-foot-two feet of pure, hardworking muscle. And just the sight of him warmed Maisie’s belly. That was a problem lately. Hayes had always been Laurel’s guy. Then Hayes had become a friend. But over the last few months, something had shifted between them, and Maisie still couldn’t figure out why her heart suddenly wanted him. But there was no denying the draw there, the want, the need. She’d tried to fight her growing attraction, feeling horribly guilty, but there was no point. Her heart demanded Hayes. While she knew Laurel would want them to be happy, Hayes hadn’t acted on the attraction, and neither had Maisie. Yet. To keep things light, she joked, “Aw, you felt so bad I was in here, you wanted to join me.” Hayes’s mouth twitched, his eyes warming when they met hers. “Didn’t want you feeling left out,” he said. A snort came from the doorway. Maisie glanced up, catching Beckett’s bemused expression. “I told him to wear armor. He didn’t listen.” Maisie smiled at Beckett, but her smile fell when she glanced at Hayes. “What happened?” Hayes looked more than annoyed, his eye twitching. “After your sisters brought you here, I went back to the farm. I had little a disagreement with a horse.” “No,” the nurse said. “He fell off a horse, and that’s why he needs to stay in this bed.” Maisie gave Hayes a totally fake chastising look. “You’re not being a terrible patient, are you?” Hayes set his jaw. “I don’t want to be a patient at all.” The nurse frowned at him. “You might have a concussion. The doctor wants you to stay overnight, just to be safe.” “Yeah, that’s not happening.” Hayes sat up, his large frame filling up the small space. He swung his legs over the side of the bed, sand falling off his cowboy boots. Maisie took in the dirt covering his worn blue jeans and black T-shirt, realizing he most definitely did have a fall. When he went to stand, she grabbed him by the arm with her uninjured hand, desperately aware of the muscles stretching and flexing beneath her fingers. “Don’t be stupid.” She pressed her hand to his chest and he willingly let her push him back on the bed. When the warmth of his eyes returned to hers, time stopped. She became instantly lost, trapped by the intensity she saw on his face. He slowly wrapped his fingers around her wrist, and maybe because it was the anniversary of Laurel’s death, or something else altogether, but she remembered the last time his fingers wrapped around her wrist. “Maisie. Go home.” Maisie stood in the dark bedroom in the empty house. She had no idea how bad Hayes’s depression had gotten, when she’d been so deep in her own. Then Beckett called and begged her to help. Now, here, with Hayes, she couldn’t believe her eyes, and yet, she understood, having been so lost herself. The beautiful, expensive property that Hayes bought when he moved back to River Rock had been gorgeous when she’d come for the spreading of Laurel’s ashes on the weeping willow hanging over the creek. Now, without him mowing the lawn or tending to the property, everything was overgrown. The three-bedroom house had no furniture. Hayes slept on a camping mat on the floor, the curtains on the windows were drawn. The darkness of the place was near stifling. She’d been right where he was. Until her sisters’ love brought her back to life. Determined to get Hayes there too, she moved to the curtains and whisked them open, letting the sunlight spill inside. She turned back, finding Hayes lying curled on his side, looking thin, his hair long, his beard far past scruffy. “You’re getting up,” she told him. “We’re going outside.” When he didn’t move, she dropped to her knees next to him. He rolled onto his back and she placed her hand on his chest. “Laurel would be devastated if she saw you like this. You’re going to get up and face each day, with me here, until we both have some kind of life worth living.” Tears welled in his eyes. His fingers wrapped around her wrist tight. “I’ve got nothing left.” “That’s not true,” she said, hearing the raw emotion in her voice. “You’ve got me.” She grabbed the blanket and yanked it off, paying no attention to the fact that he was naked. She tossed him the jeans that rested in a heap on the floor next to him. “Get dressed. I’m making you breakfast.” Maisie blinked away the memory of the day Hayes had become her friend, instead of just Laurel’s husband. They’d come through dark times together, and they had history together. So much history. Some good. Some bad. Some unimaginably painful. But this new thing that had sprung out of nowhere over the last few months made her cheeks hot, and she averted his gaze. What was once friendly between them had become taut with tension that seemed to get tighter every day. This man staring at her wasn’t broken anymore. Hunger lived in his eyes. “You need to stay here,” she told him. “Let them look you over.” “I’m fine,” he said, his voice lower than before. Not wanting to, but knowing she had to, she slowly took her hand off his chest, watching her fingers drag against the hard muscles, feeling like touching him wasn’t all that friendly anymore. “I’ve been here all day,” she pointed out. “You can endure getting looked over.” He held her stare. “Fine, I’ll get looked over. But there”—he glared at the nurse—“is no way in hell I’m staying the night.” The nurse turned away, but even Maisie saw her roll her eyes as she left the room. Beckett laughed. Maisie nudged Hayes’s shoulder. “Be nice. You’re really annoying her.” Hayes snorted, lying his head back against the pillow, staring up at the ceiling, that muscle in his jaw twitching again. “Believe me, the feeling is mutual.”  

About Stacey Kennedy:

Stacey Kennedy is a USA Today bestselling author who writes contemporary romances full of heat, heart, and happily ever afters. With over 50 titles published, her books have hit Amazon, B&N, and Apple Books bestseller lists.   Stacey lives with her husband and two children in southwestern Ontario—in a city that’s just as charming as any of the small towns she creates. Most days, you’ll find her enjoying the outdoors with her family or venturing into the forest with her horse, Priya. Stacey’s just as happy curled up indoors, where she writes surrounded by her lazy dogs. She believes that sexy books about hot cowboys or alpha heroes can fix any bad day. But wine and chocolate help too.   Stacey absolutely loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her at  

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Monday, June 15, 2020

Red Sky Over Hawaii...

Red Sky Over Hawaii: A Novel
Sara Ackerman
On Sale Date: June 9, 2020
9780778309673, 0778309673
Trade Paperback
$17.99 USD, $22.99 CAD
Fiction / Historical / World War II
352 pages
MIRA Books


For fans of Chanel Cleeton and Beatriz Williams, RED SKY OVER HAWAII is historical women's fiction set in the islands during WWII. It's the story of a woman who has to put her safety and her heart on the line when she becomes the unexpected guardian of a misfit group and decides to hide with them in a secret home in the forest on Kilauea Volcano.

The attack on Pearl Harbor changes everything for Lana Hitchcock. Arriving home on the Big Island too late to reconcile with her estranged father, all she can do is untangle the clues of his legacy, which lead to a secret property in the forest on Kilauea Volcano. America has been drawn into WWII, and amid rumors of impending invasion, the army places the islands under martial law. When they start taking away neighbors as possible sympathizers, Lana finds herself suddenly guardian to two girls, as well as accomplice to an old family friend who is Japanese, along with his son. In a heartbeat, she makes the decision to go into hiding with them all.

The hideaway house is not what Lana expected, revealing its secrets slowly, and things become even more complicated by the interest of Major Grant Bailey, a soldier from the nearby internment camp. Lana is drawn to him, too, but needs to protect her little group. With a little help from the magic on the volcano, Lana finds she can open her bruised heart to the children--and maybe to Grant.

A lush and evocative novel about doing what is right against the odds, following your heart, and what makes a family.



December 8, 1941

WITH EVERY MILE CLOSER TO VOLCANO, THE FOG thickened, until they were driving through a forest of white gauze with the occasional branch showing through. Lana considered turning the truck around no less than forty-six times. Going back to Hilo would have been the prudent thing to do, but this was not a time for prudence. Of that she was sure. She slowed the Chevy to a crawl and checked the rearview mirror. The cage with the geese was now invisible, and she could barely make out the dog’s big black spots.
Maybe the fog would be to their advantage.
“I don’t like it here at all,” said Coco, who was smashed up next to Lana, scrawny arms folded in protest. The child had to almost yell to be heard above the chug of the motor.
Lana grabbed a blanket from the floor. “Put this over you. It should help.”
Coco shook her head. “I’m not cold. I want to go home. Can you please take us back?”
Goose bumps had formed up and down her limbs, but she was so stubborn that she had refused to put on a jacket. True, Hilo was insufferably hot, but where they were headed—four thousand feet up the mountain—the air was cold and damp and flimsy.
It had been over ten years since Lana had set foot at Kı¯lauea. Never would she have guessed to be returning under these circumstances.
Marie chimed in. “We can’t go back now, sis. And anyway, there’s no one to go back to at the moment.”
Poor Coco trembled. Lana wished she could hug the girl and tell her everything was going to be okay. But that would be a lie. Things were liable to get a whole lot worse before they got any better.
“Sorry, honey. I wish things were different, but right now you two are my priority. Once we get to the house, we can make a plan,” Lana said.
“But you don’t even know where it is,” Coco whined.
“I have a good idea.”
More like a vague notion.
“What if we don’t find it by dark? Are they going to shoot us?” Coco said.
Marie put her arm around Coco and pulled her in. “Turn off that little overactive imagination of yours. No one is going to shoot us,” she said, but threw a questioning glance Lana’s way.
“We’ll be fine,” Lana said, wishing she believed that.
The girls were not the real problem here. Of greater concern was what they had hidden in the back of the truck. Curfew was six o’clock, but people had been ordered to stay off the roads unless their travel was essential to the war. Lana hadn’t told the girls that. Driving up here was a huge risk, but she had invented a story she hoped and prayed would let them get through if anyone stopped them. The thought of a checkpoint caused her palms to break out in sweat, despite the icy air blowing in through the cracks in the floorboard.
On a good day, the road from Hilo to Volcano would take about an hour and a half. Today was not a good day. Every so often they hit a rut the size of a whiskey barrel that bounced her head straight into the roof. The continuous drizzle of the rain forest had undermined all attempts at smooth roads here. At times the ride was reminiscent of the plane ride from Honolulu. Exactly two days ago, but felt more like a lifetime.
Lana’s main worry was what they would encounter once in the vicinity of the national park entrance. With the Kı¯lauea military camp nearby, there were bound to be soldiers and roadblocks in the area. She had so many questions for her father and felt a mixed ache of sadness and resentment that he was not here to answer them. How were you so sure the Japanese were coming? Why the volcano, of all places? How are we going to survive up here? Why didn’t you call me sooner?
Coco seemed to settle down, leaning her nut-brown ringlets against her sister’s shoulder and closing her eyes. There was something comforting in the roar of the engine and the jostle of the truck. With the whiteout it was hard to tell where they were, but by all estimates they should be arriving soon.
Lana was dreaming of a cup of hot coffee when Coco sat upright and said, “I have to go tinkle.”
“Tinkle?” Lana asked.
Marie said, “She means she has to go to the bathroom.”
They drove until they found a grassy shoulder, and Lana pulled the truck aside, though they could have stopped in the middle of the road. They had met only one other vehicle the whole way, a police car that fortunately had passed by.
The rain had let up, and they all climbed out. It was like walking through a cloud, and the air smelled metallic and faintly lemony from the eucalyptus that lined the road. Lana went to check on Sailor. The dog stood up and whined, yanking on the rope around her neck, straining to be pet. Poor thing was drenched and shaking. Lana had wanted to leave her behind with a neighbor, but Coco had put up such a fuss, throwing herself onto her bed and wailing and punching the pillow, that Lana relented. Caring for the girls would be hard enough, but a hundred-and-twenty-pound dog?
“Just a bathroom stop. Is everyone okay back here?” she asked in a hushed voice. Two low grunts came from under the tarp. “We should be there soon. Remember, be still and don’t make a sound if we stop again.”
As if on cue, one of the hidden passengers started a coughing fit, shaking the whole tarp. She wondered how wise it was to subject him to this long and chilly ride, and if it might be the death of him. But the alternative was worse.
“Deep breaths…you can do it,” Lana said.
Coco showed up and hopped onto the back tire. “I think we should put Sailor inside with us. She looks miserable.”
“Whose lap do you propose she sits on?” Lana said.
Sailor was as tall as a small horse, but half as wide.
“I can sit in the back of the truck and she can come up here, then,” Coco said in all seriousness.
“Not in those clothes you won’t. We don’t need you catching pneumonia on us.”
They started off again, and ten seconds down the road, Sailor started howling at the top of her lungs. Lana felt herself on the verge of unraveling. The last thing they needed was one extra ounce of attention. The whole idea of coming up here was preposterous when she thought about it. At the time it had seemed like a good idea, but now she wondered at her sanity.
“What is wrong with that dog?” Lana said, annoyed.
Coco turned around, and Lana felt her hot breath against her arm. In the smallest of voices, she said, “Sailor is scared.”
Lana felt her heart crack. “Oh, honey, we’re all a bit scared.
It’s perfectly normal under the circumstances. But I promise you this—I will do everything in my power to keep you out of harm’s way.”
“But you hardly know us,” Coco said.
“My father knew you, and you knew him, right?” Lana said. “And remember, if anyone asks, we tell them our story.”
They had rehearsed it many times already, but with kids one could never be sure. Not that Lana had much experience with kids. With none of her own and no nieces or nephews in the islands, she felt the lack palpably, smack in the center of her chest. There had been a time when she saw children in her future, but that dream had come and gone and left her sitting on the curb with a jarful of tears.
Her mind immediately went to Buck. Strange how your future with a person could veer so far off course from how you’d originally pictured it. How the one person you swore you would have and hold could end up wreaking havoc on your heart instead. She blinked the thought away.
As they neared Volcano, the fog remained like a curtain, but the air around them brightened. Lana knew from all her time up here as a young girl that the trees got smaller as the elevation rose, and the terrain changed from towering eucalyptus and fields of yellow-and-white ginger to a more cindery terrain covered with red-blossomed ‘ohi‘a trees, and prehistoriclooking ha¯pu’u ferns and the crawling uluhe. At one time in her life, this had been one of her happiest places. Coco reached for the letter on the dashboard and began reading it for the fourth time. “Coco Hitchcock. It sounds funny.” The paper was already getting worn.
Marie swiped it out of her hands. “You’re going to ruin that. Give it to me.”
Where Coco was whip thin and dark and spirited—a nice way of putting it—Marie was blonde and full-bodied and sweet as coconut taffy. But Lana could tell even Marie’s patience was wearing thin.
“Mrs. Hitchcock said we need to memorize our new names or we’ll be shot.”
Lana said as calmly as she could, “I never said anything of the sort. And, Coco, you have to get used to calling me Aunt Lana for now. Both of you do.”
“And stop talking about getting shot,” Marie added, rolling her eyes.
If they could all just hold it together a little bit longer.
There was sweat pooling between her breasts and behind her kneecaps. Lying was not her strong suit, and she was hoping that, by some strange miracle, they could sail on through without anyone stopping them. She rolled her window down a couple of inches for a burst of fresh air. “We’re just about here. So if we get stopped, let me do the talking. Speak only if someone asks you a direct question, okay?”
Neither girl said anything; they both just nodded. Lana could almost see the fear condensing on the windshield. And pretty soon little Coco started sniffling. Lana would have said something to comfort her, but her mind was void of words. Next the sniffles turned into heaving sobs big enough to break the poor girl in half. Marie rubbed her hand up and down Coco’s back in a warm, smooth circle.
“You can cry when we get there, but no tears now,” she said.
Tears and snot were smeared across Coco’s face in one big shiny layer. “But they might kill Mama and Papa.” Her face was pinched and twisted into such anguish that Lana had to fight back a sob of her own.

Excerpted from Red Sky Over Hawaii by Sara Ackerman, Copyright © 2020 by Sara Sckerman. Published by MIRA Books.



Sara Ackerman is the USA Today bestselling author of The Lieutenant's Nurse and Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers. Born and raised in Hawaii, she studied journalism and earned graduate degrees in psychology and Chinese medicine. She blames Hawaii for her addiction to writing, and sees no end to its untapped stories. When she's not writing or teaching, you'll find her in the mountains or in the ocean. She currently lives on the Big Island with her boyfriend and a houseful of bossy animals. Find out more about Sara and her books at and follow her on Instagram @saraackermanbooks and on FB @ackermanbooks.

Facebook: @ackermanbooks
Twitter: @AckermanBooks
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